Around the Bases: NL Central tied, Taijuan Walker wins MLB debut

Justin K. Aller

News and notes from Friday's MLB action, which included Pittsburgh beating St. Louis for the ninth time in 14 meetings this season.

Pirates 5, Cardinals 0: Pittsburgh and St. Louis are once again tied atop the NL Central after the Pirates shut out the Cards on Friday. Francisco Liriano continued his resurgent season by tossing eight shutout innings and allowing only two hits against the highest-scoring team in the National League. This gem came just two weeks after Liriano threw a complete-game four-hitter in St. Louis on August 16. This was the left-hander's seventh scoreless outing of the season (all at least seven innings in length), and it lowered his ERA to 2.57. Garrett Jones provided the offense with four RBIs, and he and Russell Martin hit back-to-back homers off of St. Louis rookie Shelby Miller in the fourth inning. The Pirates are now just four wins away from their first winning season since 1992.

Athletics 4, Rays 3: Jed Lowrie doubled home Coco Crisp in the eighth inning to beat David Price and the Rays, vaulting Oakland (76-58) a half-game over Tampa Bay (75-58) for the first wild card spot in the American League. Jarrod Parker pitched seven strong innings for Oakland, but Ryan Cook got the win in relief.

Tigers 7, Indians 2 (7 innings): For the second time this week, two things happened in Detroit on Friday: Miguel Cabrera left the game with discomfort in his abdomen, and the contest was called early due to rain. Cabrera also left Thursday's game against Oakland prematurely, and it is unclear when he might be able to return to the lineup. Fortunately for the Tigers, Cabrera's replacement, Andy Dirks, reached base in all three of his plate appearances, and the lineup mauled Cleveland starter Zach McAllister to the tune of five runs in 3⅔ innings. The Tigers were in the middle of another rally in the seventh when the game was called. Detroit's lead in the AL Central is now 7½ games.

Yankees 8, Orioles 5: The Yankees aren't dead yet. With a victory over Baltimore on Friday, they moved within a half game of the Orioles for third place in the Wild Card standings. C.C. Sabathia recorded the win for the Yankees despite laboring through another lackluster performance (5⅔ innings, five earned runs) in what has been a career-worst season for the former Cy Young winner. Alfonso Soriano continued his torrid hot streak with a home run off of Miguel Gonzalez in the fourth; the long ball was his 12th in only 32 games in pinstripes this year. Mariano Rivera recorded his 647th career save, and 39th on the season, with a perfect ninth inning.

Mariners 7, Astros 1: Taijuan Walker won his much-anticipated Major League debut, allowing just an unearned run in five solid innings against the Houston Astros. Walker recorded only two strikeouts against the MLB-leaders in whiffs and was limited to 70 pitches, but the Mariners have to be happy with their first look at their top prospect. Dustin Ackley also had a big game for the Mariners, going 4-for-5 with a triple and four RBIs.

Mets 3, Nationals 2: Washington's bid to get back into the Wild Card hunt took a hit on Friday when they dropped a game at home to the New York Mets. Jordan Zimmermann was out-dueled by Dillon Gee -- both starters lasted 7⅔ innings, but Gee gave up one fewer run -- and the struggling Ike Davis was the offensive hero with a two-run homer in the fourth. The loss kept Washington 6½ games behind Cincinnati for the second Wild Card.

Red Sox 4, White Sox 3: Ryan Dempster won in his first start back since being suspended for drilling Alex Rodriguez with a pitch, and Boston became the second team in the Majors to reach 80 wins. Chicago starter Hector Santiago was knocked out in the fourth after allowing 10 baserunners and throwing 101 pitches, and the Pale Hose couldn't recover. Santiago struggled with his command, allowing Boston's first run to score on a bases-loaded walk in the third, but David Ortiz dropped the hammer in the fourth with a two-run single to put the Red Sox in front for good. In a piece of good news for the White Sox, recently-acquired Avisail Garcia homered again -- he's hitting .360 in 20 games for Chicago.

Twins 3, Rangers 2: Chris Herrmann and Justin Morneau homered in a three-run seventh inning to break up a no-hitter attempt by Yu Darvish and lead Minnesota over Texas. Darvish, who struck out 11 in defeat for the Rangers, has taken three no-hit bids into the seventh inning or later this season. Texas leads Oakland in the American League West by just two games. Though he lost, Darvish did have the highlight of the game with this 61-mph gem (thanks to Lone Star Ball):

Dodgers 9, Padres 2: Adrian Gonzalez homered twice and drove in four runs to lead the Dodgers to their second straight win. Six of Gonzalez's 19 home runs this season have been hit against his old team. Hyun-jin Ryu allowed one run and pitched into the seventh inning for the Dodgers, who lead the National League West by 10½ games over Arizona, matching their largest lead of the season.

Rockies 9, Reds 6: Todd Helton tied a career high with six RBIs thanks to a pair of three-run home runs, leading Colorado to a home win over Cincinnati. Helton's two long balls gave him 2,499 hits in his career.

Giants 1, Diamondbacks 0: Tim Lincecum pitched six scoreless innings to out-duel Randall Delgado and lead the Giants to a win in Arizona. Lincecum has been up and down since his no-hitter on July 13. Friday marked his fourth quality start in eight outings since the milestone. In his other four starts since, Lincecum has allowed a total of 22 runs in 20 innings.

Braves 2, Marlins 1: Rookie starter Jose Fernandez finished his August at 3-1 with a 1.15 ERA for the Marlins, but he allowed two of his six runs in the month on Friday night to take the loss. Julio Teheran allowed one run and struck out eight while pitching into the seventh inning, leading the Braves to another win and a 14-game lead over Washington in the National League East, the largest divisional lead in baseball.

Blue Jays 3, Royals 2: The Royals are probably wishing that they'd traded starter Ervin Santana right about now. After another loss on Friday, Santana has won only one of his six starts since the July 31 trade deadline, despite posting four quality starts in that span, and Kansas City has fallen to the very edge of the Wild Card race. Mark Buehrle continued his successful second half by tossing seven scoreless innings -- he has now lowered his ERA (3.92) by nearly a full run since the All Star Game and has won his last six decisions. Adam Lind's two-run single in the first set the tone for the game, and, although Kansas City threatened with two runs in the eighth, their rally ultimately fell short.

Phillies 6, Cubs 5: Roy Halladay may be back in the Majors, but that doesn't mean that he's doing much to help the Phillies right now. He turned in his fifth stinker in nine 2013 starts on Friday, this time allowing five earned runs in five innings with more walks (two) than strikeouts (one). Luckily for him, Chicago ace Jeff Samardzija allowed five runs as well, and Cubs closer Kevin Gregg allowed the go-ahead run to score in the ninth on an RBI single by Michael Young to send the Phils to victory.

Angels 5, Brewers 0: Jered Weaver pitched six scoreless innings to lead the Halos to a victory in Milwaukee. Second baseman Grant Green doubled and drove in three runs for the Angels, doubling his career RBI total.

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